You wake one morning to a terrible pain in the back of your mouth. When you swallow, it feels like you must’ve eaten a handful of thumbtacks in your sleep. You find yourself rubbing the outside of your throat and notice some lumps that you hadn’t felt before. What is going on?

These symptoms are consistent with the diagnosis of pharyngitis, or in layman’s terms, sore throat. It is one of the most common complaints among urgent and primary care offices, especially in the winter months. Roanoke Valley ENT and Allergy is well-versed in recognizing viruses that cause sore throat symptoms for our patients. 

Why does it happen?

Pharyngitis is typically caused by a viral infection. The same viruses that cause symptoms of the common cold – runny nose, itching/watery eyes, cough, and congestion – are usually the culprit of the discomfort felt with swallowing. These infections are more prevalent in the winter months and are usually self-limiting. This means that they will typically go away without medical intervention, as our bodies are designed to fight these types of infections on their own. There are ways to help your body in this fight , such as keeping yourself hydrated, getting good nutrition and sleep, and using salt-water gargles to help soothe the irritated throat.

When should I call Rova ENT?strep throat

There are times when a sore throat is caused by something other than a virus. The most notorious bacterial cause of pharyngitis is the Streptococcus species. Thousands of people each year are diagnosed with ‘strep throat’. This diagnosis is found when there is a positive result of a rapid throat swab. There are also times that a clinical diagnosis of strep throat is made when the tonsils are enlarged and beefy red with white patches. Oftentimes, this is accompanied by enlarged tonsillar lymph nodes (those lumps mentioned earlier). Unlike viruses, bacterial causes of infection can be treated with prescription antibiotics. Typically a course of 7-10 days of antibiotic medication, in conjunction with over-the-counter pain and fever reducer, will resolve the problem. 

There are other reasons that one may awaken with pain in the throat, though these are the most common. If you awaken with a sore throat, it’s appropriate to try home management before seeking medical attention. If you do not have improvement of your symptoms or if you develop a fever or flu-like symptoms, you should see your medical provider.  If you have difficulty breathing or swallowing your own saliva, you should seek medical attention immediately. 

Contact Roanoke Valley ENT & Allergy for an appointment with our board certified otolaryngologist. Our team has decades of experience diagnosing and treating your sore throat. Schedule an appointment with us today!